NTSP Introduces “North Texas Respecting Choices(TM)” Program

FORT WORTH, TX — (Marketwire) — 02/20/13

North Texas Specialty Physicians, an Independent Physician Association comprising nearly 600 family and specialty doctors, is introducing an initiative called “North Texas Respecting Choices™.” This educational initiative is designed to motivate patients and families to engage in conversations about end-of-life care planning and to document those decisions. NTSP and their partner providers serve over 75,000 Medicare patients across Tarrant, Collin, Parker, Denton, Johnson and Dallas counties.

NTSP team members have sought assistance and are undergoing extensive training with experts from Gundersen Lutheran Health System in La Crosse, Wisconsin, in order to implement this end-of-life approach in North Texas. Gundersen Lutheran has spent more than 20 years promoting advances in palliative care and end-of-life care planning in its community, and it is now acting as a consultant to other health care organizations that wish to roll it out in their communities.

“During times of crisis, it is sometimes physically impossible for patients to give proper guidance to the medical team, and it is very difficult and stressful for family members to make decisions about end-of-life care when they are wrestling with their own emotions,” says Stuart Pickell, M.D., Medical Director of NTSP. “That is why we are encouraging our patients to engage in these crucial conversations now with their physicians and family members. Helping patients to have the conversation about end-of-life care goals gives patients control over some of the most important health care decisions,” says Pickell.

Caregivers in La Crosse found that the Respecting Choices approach meant that people are far more likely to have talked about what they want with their families and physicians before they are in the throes of a crisis. NSTP plans to approach all of its 75,000 patients with information about this initiative, making the materials available in both English and Spanish and online. NTSP staff and physicians will begin sharing information with patients and families about the North Texas Respecting Choices™ initiative this week and encouraging the start of conversations.

Through its Health Information Exchange, SandlotConnect, NTSP staff members have the ability to document patient decisions about end-of-life care. “By capturing this information in Sandlot Connect, NTSP can then make the information available electronically to any health care provider in the North Texas region, ensuring that the patients’ wishes will be recognized and followed,” said Pickell. “By encouraging patients and families to make these important decisions now, and capturing it so it can be accessible to providers, we know we can reduce the stress and burden on patients about end-of-life decisions.”

About North Texas Specialty Physicians

Fort Worth-based North Texas Specialty Physicians, known as NTSP, is an Independent Physician Association comprising nearly 600 family and specialty doctors who are dedicated to delivering the best medical care to the residents of Tarrant, Johnson and Parker Counties in North Central Texas. Unlike some physician groups, NTSP is governed by a board of local doctors and is managed by resident health care experts. Since its founding in 1995, NTSP doctors have delivered high quality care to more than 15,000 patients each day.